My wife LaRena and I were blessed to attend the Indiana District “Katie Retreat” this past weekend, and I was so pleased to be there and so encouraged by the gathering. There were over sixty ladies participating in the retreat, and in my observation, they were all well served by the Word of God and prayer – and by the camaraderie of their time and activities together. The Roman Catholic retreat center where we met was well suited for the purpose, providing an appropriate setting for presentations, for meals, and for worship, as well adequate housing, all within the same building. I was happy to learn that the Katie Retreat will be held in the same location again next year, as it seems to be an ideal location in every respect.
Along with my thanks to the many ladies who worked to plan and prepare the Katie Retreat, and to provide this opportunity for their fellow pastors’ wives from throughout the District, I give thanks, as well, to Pr. Aaron Schultz for his preaching, praying, and pastoral care at the retreat. Pr. Schultz is one of our English District brothers, the associate pastor and headmaster at Advent Lutheran Church in Zionsville. He prayed with us and preached for us at Vespers on Friday and Matins on Saturday and heard confessions on Saturday evening. I had the privilege of praying Compline with the ladies on Saturday, preaching and presiding for the Divine Service on Sunday morning, and then praying the Itinerarium at the conclusion of the Katie Retreat. Thanks to Pr. Martin Keller for assisting me with the Divine Service (and to his wife Sammy for serving as organist throughout the weekend, and to Rebekah Christiansen for coordinating the services).
The rhythm of worship throughout the Katie Retreat really contributed to the beauty and benefit of the entire gathering, grounding everything in the preaching, catechesis, prayer, and confession of the Holy Scriptures. Katie Schuermann’s keynote presentations complemented that rhythm of worship, as she offered the encouragement of God’s promises and the reason for the hope that we share as the beloved children of God in Christ Jesus. Judy May’s plenary presentation on the handing over of the faith to the next generation likewise concluded with the encouragement of the Lord’s providential care for His Church and for His dear children from age to age. I did not take in any of the various breakout sessions, but there were an appropriate variety of options, and it was obvious that the ladies enjoyed and appreciated those offerings. The social fellowship over meals and on Saturday evening was also lovely and refreshing. Thanks to Pr. Dave Shadday for coming to share some of his original songs with the group. I admire and appreciate his talents, as well as the rich pastoral and theological perspective on life that animates all of his compositions.
As I’ve always said, the Katie Retreat is not necessarily for all of our pastors’ wives, each of whom is different and unique, just as each of our pastors is a unique individual in his own right. The last thing we would ever want is for the Katie Retreat to become a burden of “expectation” or “obligation” on anyone. Our pastors’ wives are all in different seasons of life, with a variety of different callings and stations within their homes and families, congregations, and communities. But I saw again this past weekend, as I have seen and sensed over the past many years, that the Katie Retreat is a real blessing and benefit to the ladies who do attend and participate, and I give thanks to God for the care and camaraderie they find in that gathering. My hope and prayer is that all of our pastors’ wives will find similar care and camaraderie throughout the year – from their own husbands, of course, and from their congregations and other neighbors, but also from one another within their Circuits. As pastors need and benefit from the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, so do their wives benefit from the mutual conversation and consolation of sisters in Christ, who share not only the similarity of being married to a pastor, but, above all, the fellowship of Holy Baptism and the faith, hope, and love of the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus.